One of the more distasteful stories of this year in the USA: the murder prosecution of Pittsburgh doctor Kermit Gosnell for the death of a 41 year old woman during an illegal late-term abortion. By itself the story seems tragic yet not massively newsworthy. There arose two problems from this, however. The smaller problem is that it seems that late-term abortions were quite the feature of Dr. Gosnell's clinic, there were fridges full of parts of aborted babies, babies born alive had their cervical spines snipped with scissors to ensure they didn't survive, and non-white women got a far lower standard of care than white women:
"Like if a girl – the black population was – African population was big here. So he didn't mind you [the non-qualified assistants] medicating your African American girls, your Indian girl, but if you had a white girl from the suburbs, oh, you better not medicate her. You better wait until he go in and talk to her first. And one day I said something to him and he was like, that's the way of the world."The prosecution has been demanding the death penalty in this case, though I suspect their chances are rather slim.
The greater problem was that the US (and UK) news media showed very little interest in covering what should have been a sensational trial:Blogger Trevin Wax proposed eight reasons:
6. The Gosnell case involves the regulation of abortion clinics.It's possible to support a woman's right to have an abortion up to the legal limit, and yet feel very, very concerned about what Dr. Gosnell was doing. Point 6 hits the nail on the head. The last thing that strong proponents of abortion want is any increase in scrutiny and regulation of abortion clinics. It's one of those societal aspects that most welcome being "out of sight, out of mind." If people are forced to confront what actually goes on in at least some of those clinics, it may just cause some problems in the current general support for abortion in the USA.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the clinic must be portrayed as under siege from anti-abortion extremists. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that will keep people from pushing for policy change and further regulation of Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics.
7. The Gosnell case exposes the disproportionate number of abortion clinics in inner cities and the disproportionate number of abortions among minority groups.
Whenever we see news stories about abortion, the discussion must be framed in terms of providing “access” for low-income, minority women. But it is impossible to spin this story in a way that keeps people from wondering if perhaps some abortion providers are "targeting" low-income, minority women.